San Galgano in Tuscany

A winter day in Tuscany

San Galgano
San Galgano

The Abbey of San Galgano was built in the 12th century by Cistercian monks and is located in a small plain, surrounded by hills thickly covered with oak forests. After only hundred years, due to the plague, the abbey was abandoned and decayed more and more. Today one can only see the imposing ruins of one of the once largest Gothic churches in Italy. Sic transit gloria ...

We walk through the cypress avenue, the late afternoon sun light on the bright warm red walls of the church's ruins. The sun's rays fall obliquely through the lancet windows. The ornaments conjure no shadows, but rosettes of light on the walls.

And outside the window cut-outs of a tree, a meadow, a church on a hill. The world comes into this church unfiltered. And I can smell the perfume of the outside world: moist soil from the fields around, warmth on old stones, a wood fire that is just being lit at the nearby pub and which almost smells like an incense.

The view goes up to where it should turn to in a church. And there is only the blue sky with some fast moving clouds, nothing else. The view up to the Supreme is completely free.

When we step out of the church, the sky is in a thousand shades, from pink to a fiery orange. The hills are dark, the cypresses like black brush strokes. The grass takes on an eerie white as if there was mist rising up from it.

I remember a long summer in Siena, many years ago when I was studying Italian at the University for Foreigners. I remember hot August days when I would drive with my Vespa through a landscape glowing with sun, the air full of pine scent. And I remember an evening at San Galgano, a concert of music by Nino Rota. The moon was rising slowly behind the apse and first its light would only come through the large round east window. Finally it fell upon us from above, from a ceiling made of silvery light. I remember the sound of a lonely trumpet and the melancholic tunes of "La Strada".

Back then I thought: "What a magical place".

And todayonce again it became clear to me why I have chosen this country as my new home.

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